NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The battle between state and local government continues to boil.
Monday night, the Tennessee House will see a bill to slice Nashville’s Metro Council in half. “That bill has always been about setting a maximum size for where the guardrails are from the legislature on the formation of cities and metros,” House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) said.
Top Republicans contend the reason they pressed the bill is the inefficiency of Metro, not necessarily as a response to the city declining the 2024 RNC—though, some of them talked about retribution immediately after the denial.
Democrats say it’s a blatant grab of power over a Democratic-majority city.
“This is a targeted attempt to usurp and undermine the will of the people and voters of Davidson County,” Sen. Charlane Oliver (D-Nashville) said.
At the same time as that bill moves forward, other bills to ‘vacate and reconstitute’ the boards of the Nashville International Airport and Metro Sports authorities continue their push, too. Those bills shift the power of appointing the majority of each authority from the city to the state.
“Even everybody agrees BNA is more than just Davidson County now, so having more representation on there from outside Davidson County with more people making those appointments is not a bad thing,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said.
Republican leadership previously signaled those two bills plus some others could fade if Nashville opened the door for the 2028 RNC. But now, it appears they’ve backed off that sentiment.
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“My understanding is the airport bill is in a very good spot, so I think you’ll see that move forward here rather quickly,” Sexton said. “That would be the next item after Metro council’s on the house floor Monday.”
Nashville leaders say these types of bills force the city to focus on all the wrong things.
“We are constantly being preempted with laws that tie our hands behind our backs and prevent us from addressing real quality of life issues,” Oliver said.
But Republican leadership expressed confidence and pointed toward other cities in the country as examples.
“I look forward to it passing and becoming law because that just makes sense,” Lamberth said. “When you look at all the cities and metros throughout the entire country, very few of them are above 15.”
The bill to cut Metro council is expected to easily pass the house Monday night. It heads to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee Tuesday morning.
That committee is generally the last before it hits the Senate floor.